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Self discipline on communing...


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#21 Niko Barounis

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 01:35 AM

Father David Moser and John S, what u both said above makes perfect sense. John S, sounds like you know more about the ancient church history than me, i had never heard they used to commune weely! . But....maybe im just an old school dog who cant learn new tricks. I cant do it, i was brought up this way. But im also thinking we/my family are from Greece and thats not how they do it. i reffering my parents and my grand parents. when we were discussing that im communung weekly they sugested that i speek to the priest and ask him if its ok, another person said every week! what are you a priest, only priests commune weekly. I say this just to get you to understand that it definitly was not like this (every week) 30, 50, 80 years ago. plus i think maybe Greeks do it diffrently? cause as of yet i have not told anyone, in greece the weekly communing and the day of fasting. EVERY one was shocked at this. but then again the Greek orthodox church in america-is just that Greek! And they perscribe single day fast. hence my lable of a watered down orthodoxy! its only in the USA its done like that, not in greece.

#22 Georgianna

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 10:06 AM

...its only in the USA its done like that, not in greece.


Both in Greece and within GOA an effort is being made to correct misunderstandings that surround frequent reception of the Holy Mysteries. One example is Archimandrite Daniel G. Aerakis who wrote a booklet “When and How to Receive Communion" [11th edition Athens 1997, translated by Fr. Nicholas Palis]. It is dedicated to “those who struggled and are struggling to rekindle the longing for frequent Divine Communion.”

In the Prologue, Fr Daniel explains:

The first Christians, according to the description of the New Testament, communed daily. Even if we cannot achieve this today, participation in the Cup of Life is achievable at least on Sunday, the Lord’s Day, the day of Christ’s Resurrection. On Sunday, we celebrate the Liturgy in all the churches where presbyters of the Church serve. Nothing should prevent us from receiving the Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on Sunday. As one family, we partake of the mystery or sacrament (from here on we shall be using the Orthodox term ‘mystery’ instead of ‘sacrament’) of deliverance in the Liturgy on the Day of the Lord.

Many things have been written on the extraordinary mystery of Divine Eucharist and for the need of constant communion. With this book, we have no desire to add one more to the relatively rich bibliography. We simply wish to touch upon one side of the whole topic: the obstacles of frequent Divine Communion, or more specifically, the traps which Satan sets to prevent Christians from uniting with Jesus Christ. (p 5)

Before the chapters outlining “true preparation” for approaching Holy Communion (self-examination, Holy Confession, prayer and contrition, Service of Divine Communion, etc.), Fr. Daniel outlines various objections raised regarding frequent reception of Holy Communion. Here are three examples:

"How can I commune frequently? I am not worthy. Who am I, to approach so frequently?"

… We do not commune because we are worthy but because Christ condescends and accepts to dwell in us. We do not commune because we are worthy; rather, we commune to become worthy. Let the Christian who does not commune frequently because he does not consider himself worthy answer: Will a day ever come when his conscience will witness that he is worthy? When he says that he is worthy, that is when he will be more unworthy than any other time! … (p 25) The believer frequently approaches Divine Communion, providing, of course, he has the related permission of his spiritual father, who must be correct and discerning. (p 26)


"Only the priests can commune frequently. Lay people cannot."

Why this distinction? Where does the Holy Scripture say that only the clergyman have such a privilege, that is, for them only to partake frequently of the Mystical Table? The clergyman is a servant of the sacred Table, a celebrant of the mysteries of God. On the topic of Divine Communion, he does not differ from the lay person. … (p 27)


With regards to fasting:

Probably the greatest success of the Devil is …related to the most sacred institution of our Church, the institution of fasting. Fasting, which is a weapon against the Devil, becomes, in the given circumstance, a weapon in the Devil’s hands. With this, he deceives many of those who commune, making them believe they came prepared; whereas in reality, they are unprepared. The evil one also takes many far away, almost forever, from the life-giving and saving food of Divine Communion. (p 42)

…Let no one think that we scorn fasting. On the contrary, we accept the sacred institution of fasting, just as the Orthodox Church accepts it. … Fasting is medicine of the soul but a medicine which must be taken at its proper time and in the proper manner.(p 43, 44)

Now let us look at the relationship between fasting and Divine Communion. Many people think that fasting prior to Christmas, Pascha, the Dormition of the Theotokos, and the feast of the Holy Apostles, has been appointed with the purpose of us preparing for Divine Communion on these days. Thus, since only prior to these four great feasts when there is a sustained, multi-consecutive day fast we should commune only four times a year! …

Fasting prior to the great feasts has the purpose of preparing us spiritually for familiarization with the great events. It has no relation to Divine Communion, which is not limited to these four periods of fasting, but a daily pursuit and need. On the days which the Church appoints for fasting, everyone who can should fast – both those who commune constantly and those who on account of serious impediments of sins do not commune frequently. (p 46, 47)

We come to the specific question: Is there a special fast prior to Divine Communion that those who commune frequently are obligated to follow? We unequivocally answer, “No.” There is much talk of course about some such fast and the souls of the pious are troubled by the lack of judgment and indifference of certain spiritual fathers. There is, furthermore, much talk about the ‘three day fast without oil’ prior to Divine Communion. …[The ‘three day fast without oil’] habit surrounding the Mystery of Divine Communion is a remnant of the Turkish occupation period when there was great ignorance of the Sacred Canons ... (p 48)

Regarding the topic of the relationship between Divine Communion and fasting, in summary we say the following:

* For those who commune frequently, the fast which the Church appoints suffices (Wednesday, Friday, Lents and the rest of the fasts).
* As for Saturday, they can eat non fasting food[i] at lunch, and at night let them suffice to have a drink, a little bread or a few fruits.
* If the spiritual father, for reasons of ascesis and continence, appoints to a certain Christian a stricter fast, this particularity in no way can be considered an institution by the sacred Canons.(p 49-50)



[/HR][i] It is advisable for this matter to be left in the discretion of one’s spiritual father.


Edited by Georgianna, 15 September 2012 - 10:26 AM.


#23 Father Stephanos

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 11:52 AM

A day or days of fasting immediately before partaking of Holy Communion came about in the Orthodox Church in Greece during the Tourkokratia (Turkish Occupation). During this period there were priests who could celebrate the Divine Liturgy, but who could not witness the Sacrament of Penance (hear Confession). In the Greek ecclesiastical/liturgical tradition a priest must be elevated to being a Confessor in order to witness the Sacrament of Penance. Many faithful therefore had a Divine Liturgy that they could participate in to partake of the Holy Eucharist, but they had no practical way of going to Confession. They then reasoned, rightly or wrongly, that they would fast extra to take the place of the Confession that they could not make. Some said they would fast for three days before the Divine Liturgy to take the place of the Confession of their sins; others for the same reason, said they would fast a day before the Divine Liturgy; and still others said they would fast a week before the Divine Liturgy since they had nowhere to go for Confession.

Now it is usually much easier to find a Confessor to confess ones sins when needed; therefore there is no need to fast for one, three, or seven days before receiving the Holy and Precious Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. We only need fast on the weekdays (Wednesdays and Fridays, and for some Mondays), the other days of fasting, and during the Holy Lents appointed by our Holy Church and keep the Communion Fast from midnight until when we partake of Holy Communion. Unfortunately, the custom of fasting for days before receiving Holy Communion still lingers on as many are not aware as to why it was done.

I hope this helps!

With agape in our Lord Jesus Christ,

+ Father Stephanos



#24 Niko Barounis

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 03:42 PM

WOW!--stunning, thank you F. Stefanos and Georgianna! Something i need to look further into. Was i un-intentinally lead astray all my life, and the people who lead/told me to do it this way still do it themselves, and is it so prevalent that all i talk to say the same, contrary to what you all say. Im so confused. I will look for the booklet you quoat Georgiana, i realy hope i can find it in Greek so i can give it to the people who tell me i need to fast for 3 days+, wonder what they will say? this is like an epiffany-suddenly the way you did thngs, it labled wrong and all is changed in an instant. confusing and sad at the same time.

#25 Georgianna

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 04:49 PM

... i realy hope i can find it in Greek


I have no experience with this particular website, but here is a link to the booklet in Greek with the ISBN number: http://www.biblionet...πώς_να_κοινωνής.

#26 Andrew Salvia

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 04:39 PM

What of other traditions? My parish situation is a little bit outside the norm. We are under the Bulgarian patriarchate, but my priest was trained in the ROCOR style (before being received into the Bulgarian Church), which from my understanding requires weekly confession for weekly reception of the Eucharist.

While this was the tradition he received, it has been off putting to Romanians, Greeks and Bulgarians and others who have come to our church a few times only to leave after feeling like they were not experiencing what they had known.

Are there any canons to guide us in this respect? Should my priest follow the canons of the Patriarchal Church (assuming they are different) instead of his training? Is 1 confession per 1 communion too strict? I'm kind of divided on this issue and would appreciate some context from the Church.

In Christ,
Andrew

#27 Archimandrite Irenei

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 07:29 PM

This is really a pastoral matter for which the ultimate authority is the bishop, and the practice he blesses and expects in his diocese, and which then falls into the hands of the priest to exercise in a spiritually beneficial manner for his flock.

 

If you've questions about the practice in your parish, the best route by far is to approach the priest and ask to discuss the matter with him.

 

INXC, Fr Irenei



#28 Father David Moser

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 07:35 PM

Are there any canons to guide us in this respect? Should my priest follow the canons of the Patriarchal Church (assuming they are different) instead of his training? Is 1 confession per 1 communion too strict? I'm kind of divided on this issue and would appreciate some context from the Church.

 

Andrew,

 

In the end, the priest is answerable to his bishop.  One must presume that the bishop knows that this is the practice of your priest and approves, or at least has no objection.  The priest is responsible before God for the sacraments and all those to whom he administers them.  Thus if he were to carelessly administer the Gifts to someone that he knew was not prepared or even to someone that he had not done everything he could to help them prepare, then this is not a sin for the recipient, but for the priest and for this carelessness, he will answer before the throne of God.

 

Too strict - no I don't think so.

 

Fr David



#29 Andrew Salvia

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Posted 08 March 2014 - 03:12 AM

Reviving the topic, in my study about the history of the link between Holy Confession and Communion, I stumbled upon this article on Mystagogy. Is the stance of Met. Hierotheos in the mainstream of Orthodoxy? There seems to be a lot of confusion among the laity when visiting other churches. For example, in my area we have two churches: a Bulgarian parish and a Greek. The priest of the former requires weekly confession, whereas the priest at the latter does not. Perhaps the Assembly of Bishops or even the Great and Holy Council could address it?

 

In Christ,

Andrew



#30 Kosta

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Posted 08 March 2014 - 01:59 PM

Slavic churches tend to emphasize confession more than the byzantine churches. Metropolitan Hierotheos is explaining the practise of the greek tradition; where confession is not tied to Communion.

#31 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 08 March 2014 - 02:33 PM

When I have been in Moscow the last couple of times, the priests in some churches (eg St Gregory of Neocaesaria in Polyanka) were trying to dissuade the very long queues (of mainly babushki) that they need not confess unless they really had something to say. But these people stick to their habits. It is unrealistic to expect the average working person to stand in a queue for two or three hours to confess.



#32 Mark Harris

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Posted 08 March 2014 - 08:03 PM

In my wife's village in Romania the infrequent confessor and par taker of Communion is expected to fast for 2 weeks before confession . In the ROCOR Church in the Uk I was only expected to fast from the midnight before confession.

#33 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 08 March 2014 - 09:44 PM

Too much! This could put off some people.



#34 Jean-Serge

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Posted 16 March 2014 - 12:53 PM

Confession is not a passport for communion, but is necessary to be cleansed fron sin. That is why that even if we do not commune, we should confess regularly. The problem of the Russian practice is that confession and communion are almost merged, so that people only come to confess when they are to commune. Consequently, for those who commune infrequently, it means confessing unfrquently, which is not spiritually fruitful. Just have a look on the benefit of frequent confession in the Manual of Confession by Saint Nikodemos



#35 Andrew Salvia

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 02:35 AM

Slavic churches tend to emphasize confession more than the byzantine churches. Metropolitan Hierotheos is explaining the practise of the greek tradition; where confession is not tied to Communion.

I'm aware of what the Metropolitan is speaking of, but it still bothers me. Are we going to reduce our sacramental theology to mere cultural differences? From what I have read in other articles, books, etc., Met. Hierotheos's answer is the traditional, Orthodox position.

In Christ,
Andrew

#36 Kosta

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 04:14 AM

To be honest with you I believe the Russian practise of confessing before communing as latin influence. Perhaps a controversial statement, maybe someone can chime in on what the antiochan practise in the old country would be.

#37 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 11:21 AM

I think it is worth bearing in mind that we cannot approach the chalice in a state of complete purity: the Body and Blood of Christ are, after all, given 'for the remission of sins', not as a reward for scrupulous preparation.


Edited by Andreas Moran, 07 April 2014 - 11:22 AM.


#38 Andrew Salvia

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 06:49 PM

To be honest with you I believe the Russian practise of confessing before communing as latin influence. Perhaps a controversial statement, maybe someone can chime in on what the antiochan practise in the old country would be.

I'd be very interested to learn the same, Kosta.

In Christ,
Andrew

#39 Antonios

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 01:01 AM

I read somewhere recently that the Holy Synod planned for 2016 will deliberate on fasting practices. Anyone hear the same?

#40 Kosta

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 05:12 AM

Ive heard of this and posted a comment on a recent thread on Fasting pertaining to the planned council of 2016. My comment was that the council should seek to preserve the regulations as handed down from the beginning. Which should Include expanding the fast to better observe the spirit of the tradition.

 

This means a strict fast day in which Wine is not permitted actually means 'only water',  and to refrain from eating till about 3 pm.






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